On BioScience and Life and Such

Posts Tagged ‘quote’

Quote of the month November 09

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

It is a sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. Names are everything. I never quarrel with actions. My one quarrel is with words….The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.

Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, poet, and novelist, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

End of summer quote

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2009 at 8:51 pm
The cast of Watchmen; Clockwise from top: Doct...
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From Watchmen (introduction to chapter VII / ending of chapter VI):

Is it possible, I wonder, to study a bird so closely, to observe and catalogue its perculiarities in such minute detail, that it becomes invisible? Is it possible that while fastidiously calibrating the span of its wings or the length of its tarsus, we somehow lose sight of its poetry? That in our pedestrian descriptions of a marbled or vermiculated plummage we forfeit a glimpse of living canvases, cascades of carefully toned browns and golds that would shame Kandinsky, misty explosions of color to rival Monet? I believe that we do. I believe that in approaching our subject with the sensibilities of statisticians and dissectionists, we distance ourselves increasingly from the marvelous and spell-binding planet of imagination whose gravity drew us to our studies in the first place.

This is not to say that we should cease to establish facts and to verify our information, but merely to suggest that unless those facts can be imbued with the flash of poetic insight then they remain dull gems; semi-precious stones scarcely worth the collecting.”

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Quote-fest 0509

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2009 at 7:54 pm
Dumbledore as portrayed by the late Richard Ha...
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1. From this post on Gene Expression (found via this excellent post):

the study of human genetic variation is in its infancy, and once it hits adolescence it’s going to start becoming a real pain in the ass.

2. From a comment on this post on Anna’s Bones:

My argument, however, was very simple: If you don’t believe in evolution, don’t get the flu shot. It’s hypocritical.

3. From this post on Blind Scientist on scientists as communicators:

We are horrible communicators, most of our websites are dreadful and do no contain any useful information and when we are confronted with a dumb Playboy bombshell we lose the argument. We lose because usually the argument is so ludicrous that we have no patience to explain. We lose because we are unable to communicate in lay terms. We lose because we’re not entertainers or crowd manipulators. We lose because we make our arguments difficult to understand. We lose because we get angry.

4. From “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling:

After all, to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. – Professor Dumbledore on p. 215, line 31

5. …………and…..:

…the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things which are worst for them. – Professor Dumbledore on wanting Money and life extension, p. 215, line 35.

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Quote of the month April 09

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2009 at 7:39 am
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From this friendfeed discussion:

is tea the old coffee?

Paulo Nuin, Brasilian (connaiseur of coffee ?) and author of The Blind Scientist.

This should make him happy.

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Quote-fest 0409

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

H+ magazine special edition. All quotes below taken from the spring issue of H+ magazine.


1. From Ru Sirius on p.9:

If you embrace these [bio-progressive] rights, expect heavy resistance, because you will find yourself in for a territorial pissing match with most of the leading religions. Religions have traditionally ruled over the “seed” issues – issues around conception, death, the body, self-definition, gender and sexuality. But given the intrusive potentials of advancing technologies, this is a discussion we need to start having now.

2. from Moira A. Gunn on p.27:

….we need to create all this data to figure out who we humans are and how we tick. But unfortunately, we don’t know what data we need for what, and what — in the end — will prove useful. We are still shooting in the dark.

3. From Vernor Vinge on p.31:

The fundamental change that may be taking place humans may not be best characterized as the tool-creating animal but as the only animal that has figured out how to outsource its cognition — how to spread its cognitive abilities into the outside world.

4 + 5. From Alex Lightman on p.33:

If companies are living people, the drop in life expectancy for companies is comparable only to the fastest dying country in the world that is not at war — zimbabwe, where life expectancy has fallen from 60 in 1990 to 34 today.

The moral of the story is that, for those of us in our forties and up, we need to redouble our efforts at birthing problem solving technologies, and we need to make the future happen now or never (at least within the lifetimes of adults in 2008). or we better hope that Vernor Vinge is right and that the Singularity doesn’t require anything close to a healthy economy, in which case those smarter than-us bots can take charge and knock off all of our problems like ducks in a row.

6. From Douglas Rushkoff on p.37:

The way out — as I see it — is to begin making our own money again. I’m not talking barter, but local currency. Money is just an agreement. And the more a community trusts one another, the more effi ciently the moneys they develop can function. We can create units of currency based on anything; if we don’t have grain, we can earn it into existence instead by babysitting, taking care of the elderly, or teaching in a charter school. every hour worked is an “hour” of currency credited to your account.

7. From Jason Stoddard on p. 38:

Let’s be clear on this. We’re not going to wake up in a magical world where iPods and McMansions grow on trees overnight. Before that can happen, every part of today’s value chain has to be overturned. Everything. Production of raw materials, transport and refining, design and engineering, manufacturing, distribution . . . even our own sense of worth.

And there are plenty more. The magazine is highly recommended reading.

Quote of the month March 09

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2009 at 10:05 am
Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868), composer
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Gioachino Antonio Rossini, the famous opera-composer who created The Barber of Seville (the most famous of  his 39 operas):

How wonderful opera would be if there were no singers.

And I add: Politics without politicians, news without journalists, stock-exchange without brokers………

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Quote of the month February 09

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm
Frank Wilczek at Nobel press conference in Sto...
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Nobel prize winner Frank Wilczek (quote from here):

The most exciting thing that can happen is when theoretical dreams that started as fantasies, as desires, become projects that people work hard to build. There is nothing like it; it is the ultimate tribute. At one moment you have just a glimmer of a thought and at another moment squiggles on paper. Then one day you walk into a laboratory and there are all these pipes, and liquid helium is flowing, and currents are coming in and out with complicated wiring, and somehow all this activity is supposedly corresponds to those little thoughts that you had. When this happens, it’s magic.

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The First Monthly Biopinionated Quote-Fest

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2008 at 9:51 am

post to news.thinkgene.com

1. In a comment on this blog by Andrew Yates of Think Gene:.

……………..educated people don’t have children

2. From this friendfeed discussion:

“I agree. I don’t think too many people from the news industry will read this piece, and those that do will immediately jump to explaining it, why it’s wrong, or what I need to understand, or something else. On the other hand I don’t too many other people will read it either. I’m basically writing this for myself so if I come back here by chance in a couple of years and want to know what I was thinking about, here it will be. If experience is a guide, however, I won’t come back and re-read it. So the real reason I write stuff like this is that it helps my thinking process, having written this I am now ready to move on to the next step or thing or level or what-have-you.” – Dave Winer

“perfect explanation for why we blog!” – Bora Zivkovic

3.  From another friendfeed discussion:

any legal or scientific definition will be arbitrary because the development of of a fertilized egg into a human body/brain/person is a gradual process. atheists have a problem here, I wish they’d admit it. – Christopher Harris

4.  Ian Mulvany Twitter

MS office suite must have retarded human evolution by at least several million man years”

5. Another two from Andrew Yates (I know, ….I’m a fan)  in this post:

(The coolest thing about genetics is that leftist don’t believe race exists and rightists don’t believe evolution exists, so if you’re into genetics, you can antagonize your family in the heartland and your friends on the coasts! Science sure is fun.)

6. and this post:

Contrary to the hallmark of every critical journalistic piece about genetics, the future of inequality needs no neo-Hitler concocting blonde-hair, blue-eyed super genius babies in sterile reproductive camps. It only needs to increasingly make raising more successful children more expensive. I’m not aware of any significant counteracting trend.

7. George Dvorsky in this post on his blog:

What is it about sex selection that gives cause to such rejection?

For me this is a no-brainer. Couples in the developed world, where gender discrimination and biases are less prominent, should be allowed to use gender selection for family balancing purposes. I’m absolutely flabbergasted that this is still not a right in some countries, including Canada where couples and their doctors face the threat of large fines and jail terms.

8. Daniel MacArthur of Genetic future in a comment to Steve Murphy of GeneSherpas on this post:

By the way, I didn’t say that you should be embarrassed by your post – I’ve been reading your blog too long to expect you to be introspective about anything you write. I meant that I was embarrassed by reading it.

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